The peak crowd of the exhibition of my work at Porta Santi Quaranta, Treviso.
The entrance to the exhibition space, guarded by an ancient cannon and the Winged Lion.
The exhibition of my original artwork, which also featured an amazing selection of 40 punk-related images by cartoonists from all over the world, took place in Porta Santi Quaranta, built in 1516. It’s one of the three gates of the ancient walls of Treviso, and was reportedly used to store ammunition. There is even an ancient cannon that is still stationed outside the building! Since the area of Treviso is considered to be one of the most important birthplaces of punk rock in Italy, I drew some Ramones’ pinheads on cannonballs with “Cannonballs From Treviso” instead of “Rocket to Russia.”
At the peak of the crowd, which numbered in the hundreds, both inside and outside, the organizers of the exhibition gave a short talk (left to right): Mery (who put together the entire exhibition), Andrea (lots of his great photos appear in my blog posts about the event), John (That is me: the big, fat, bald guy in the WOW! WOW! WOW! t-shirt), Roger (who bears a very strong resemblance to Roger Daltry of The Who), and... I am sorry, I forgot his name, but he was the official representative from TCBF. I will update this page with his name soon.
Here is a better photo of Mery from the exhibition. She did an amazing job, framing almost 100 drawings in only a day or two in time for the opening! She was The Best to work with. During the show, we all said: "There's Something About Mery."
A (very) last-minute addition to the exhibition was this life-size drawing of Joey Ramone by Davied Toffolo:
Davide attended the exhibition with his very beautiful girlfriend! (I am so sorry, no photos available). We had a lot of fun outside the exhibition after the show. The street was packed! So many people were partying outside of the John Holmstrom/40 drawings exhibition that one of the corner bars ran out of beer! (You are welcome, and owe me some next time I visit!) Davide is a cartoonist/illustrator/musician: He's also the frontman and guitarist for the italian punk band called "Tre Allegri Ragazzi Morti" (Three Happy Dead Boys): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tre_Allegri_Ragazzi_Morti
This was probably my favorite image from the "40 Drawings) exhibitions: Lucia Fioretti's interpretation of Debbie Harry. This drawing is based on a photo shoot by Chris Stein that we published in PUNK #4, and I have to admit that I think that those photos of Debbie helped put Blondie over the top. They contributed to almost every single issue of PUNK Magazine back in the day, and because they were so commercially successful I think that most people overlook how radical and ground-breaking Blondie were as artists. A pop band that is also avant-garde? People just can't even conceive of something like this today.
Get into it: This drawing of the Velvet Underground is AMAZING!
Above: My good friends David Godlis (godlis.com) and Roberta Bayley (robertabayley.com), interpreted by Francesca Protopapa (http://francescaprotopapa.com/ILLUSTRATION). Thank you, Francesca, for adding them to the show!
I can't find his info on the Internet, but King Simon's illustration of Tommy Ramone says a lot. He really is the most under-appreciated member of the original band, and I have always believed that without his intellect and smarts, the Ramones would never have happened. Here's to you, Tommy Ramone!
Everyone loves Siouxsie Sioux, right? Except that if she appeared in today's culture, she would probably be accused of "cultural appropriation" because of her use of "Sioux." I am so glad I am not growing up today, that would be too absurd. She was an important female force in early punk rock (along with Patti Smith, Tina Weymouth, Ivy of The Cramps and hundreds more). Anyhow, I love this drawing!!!
Yes, some of the limited-edition, silkscreened art prints are still available: print@punkmagazine
So are the t-shirts: email@example.com
Awesome day. It started with a panel discussion at a high school devoted to art and architecture where Ruggero played several rock ’n’ roll videos, and I tried to give an inspirational talk. It is sometimes difficult for old-timers like me to understand how our music is becoming forgotten and just part of the past when it was such an important part of 20th century history, but it’s 2016 now so, you know…
No images from the event, but I will post if/when I receive any.
The weirdest moment was when they announced to the high school class that AC/DC had just officially broken up! Immediately after, we ate at a great restaurant where Roger recently appears in his AC/DC tribute band. I saw AC/DC when they opened for the Dictators at the Academy of Music many years ago, and again when they played CBGB in a surprise gig in 1977. I had a great time talking with Bon Scott at the bar that night, but I think he was too drunk to remember when Roberta Bayley and I did a very short interview with them at the CBS Records office a couple of days later (PUNK #14 and "The Best of PUNK Magazine" book). They were a great rock 'n'roll band.
After we had lunch at a club where Roger performs with how AC/DC band, we suddenly noticed that day's local newspaper: WOW! I was on the front page of the local Arts page! What an experience to have with the official TCBF event happening the very next day. I have to hand it to Andrea and Roger, who think of themselves as "The Italian Ramones": They really make things happen. Thanks again.
The highlight of my tour was a visit to Fabrica, which is a temple to culture, an academic institution, and an archive for important art, film, video, etc. It’s architecture is like a “Temple of Wisdom.”
I did a live interview in front of 100+ people (in English), with Mario Bonardi (Rolling Stone magazine) and Roger Brunello, aka Roger Ramone. The event was sold-out, all full of people really interested in our discussion. You could feel the energy in the audience: Everyone was interested in our conversation. No one got bored and left early. According to Roger, many of the rock ’n’ roll people are part of the “Mod” culture (which is apparently very popular in northern Italy), and not necessarily punk rock. Since the Mod culture pre-dates punk rock but was a huge influence (especially The WHo), it all makes sense. The Q&A after the initial discussion went great. As you can hopefully see for yourself:
Prints and t-shirts from the event are still available. Please send an email if you are interested.
The limited edition, silk-screened art print of the Queens Museum map, which is suitable for framing:
Ruggero and Andrea drove me to Venice, one of the most famous cities in the world. I am very grateful for this, since everyone wants to visit Venice. Yes, it’s beautiful and a very special place (for instance, there was an amazing exhibition of Leonardo DaVinci’s “machines” at a local church), but I felt like I was visiting the West Village in NYC. It seems like super-expensive tourist traps have taken over most of it, and I was told that the “Chinese Mafia” has been buying a lot of local businesses. It was like being in Amsterdam, a city I love because it reminds me of New York City, but in when I was in Treviso? I felt like I was visiting Italy.
My trip to Venice was remarkable for two reasons: I met two of the most amazing people in all of Italy. Alex Ruffini: a famous Italian rock photog:
I don't know why so many of my good friends are rock photographers (Roberta Bayley, David Godlis, Bob Gruen, Joe Stevens, etc.), maybe it's because I am a frustrated rock photog myself. That was my dream job when I was younger, but since I was not a great photog I fell into drawing and cartooning about rock 'n' roll instead. I have always enjoyed the visual spectacles of great rock 'n' roll music, and Alex is a master of capturing great moments.
The other amazing person I met was Mario Panciera, an astonishing punk collector/fan/writer/musician/good guy. He has the largest archive of 1970s punk rock posters, flyers, records, CDs, magazines/fanzines, and artifacts in the world. I am not kidding. Unfortunately, photos of our visit were discouraged.
People who have seen his collection call it: “The Punk Rock Museum,” and it is. Everything is framed and archived to the hilt. Mario is planning to make his collection accessible to the public someday, so I will keep you posted if/when it happens. I just have to say being allowed to visit his vast, perfect and complete archive of all things punk rock is something I am still trying to process, and was the most amazing time I spent in Italy. This might be the most amazing collection of artifacts by anyone of anything of all time. (I am not exaggerating!) For instance, he wrote the definitive book on the subject:
We got along like brothers from another mother. We both started out as Alice Ciooper fans in the early 1970s, love everything punk rock from 1975-1979, and lost interest in punk rock after that. Mario discovered Love’s “Forever Changes” LP and this became his favorite music after punk rock (I am also a fan of this LP, and saw Arthur Lee perform the entire record at the Cat Club in the 1990s). me? I still like punk rock and rock 'n' roll and everything, but dislike mainstream culture from recent years.
A day in Vicenza:
I enjoyed a delicious home-cooked meal of genuine Italian pasta at Andrea’ Compa Ramone's home in Vicenza, and afterwards did a video interview with him for Classic Rock magazine. The interview was set up by "Tony Face Bacciocchi, who is "The Italian Godfather" (who is also good friends with Paul Weller, who was in The Jam). It was published recently:
On the way to the Signing Party, we stopped the car and took a look at the Palladian Villa “La Rotonda” (a very famous UNESCO world heritage site built in 1592):
I saw a lot of very nice villas in Treviso, but this was the grandest. Next, we visited Serimab Screenprinting, the print shop that produced my first official silkscreened, limited edition art print (of the Queens Museum/Ramones map).
I signed all the official silksreen art prints, then it was time to party!
The shop threw a great party with lots of beer and fun! It reminded me of the good old days in New York City back in the 1970s and early 1980s, and how much I always enjoyed visiting the printers who would help create PUNK Magazine, Comical Funnies and STOP!. I did a video interview for Salad Days magazine that I think went well, keep an eye out for it:
sI was introduced to an amazing punk rock group from Verona: Kill The Mayor. This band kicks major ass! I am so glad I met them. They are like the Italian Pussy Riot. They are more proof that punk rock is NOT dead, that it is alive and well and thriving around the world. Watch their video here ("You Are A Bitch" is my favorite):
I also met the very famous Sebastiano “Seby Derozer” Berlato, the front man for one of the best and most popular punk rock bands: Derozer. (Sorry, no photos yet.) They tour in front of sold-out crowds all over Europe!
(SIDE NOTE: The response to the map I drew for the Queens Museum has been unprecedented in my career. I am very grateful, since it took many months for me to finish: I did tons of research on Forest Hills, Queens, Manhattan and the history of the Ramones in the Greater New York area. I’m so glad people, especially all of the Ramones fans, like the way it came out. I intended it to be like a new record cover for a Ramones LP that never came out, mixed with a visual history of the Ramones, especially their now-historic first record. The response at the Queens Museum, which had record attendance, amazed all of us who worked with them back in the day.) And the limited edition, silkscreen art print was made for people who want a copy of the Queens Museum map to frame, without the creases from the actual map (which was given away for free at the Queens Museum).
The silkscreen art prints of the Ramones map (a reproduction of the Queens Museum map) are selling better than any art print I ever produced. Here’s how to order one:
Roger and Andrea took me on a nice tour of the “Colline Del Prosecco”: The wine country outside Treviso where the vinyards grow the grapes and the wineries produce Prosecco. It’s similar to Napa Valley in California: A big-time tourist industry based on winde prodiction. We ate a great meal at an amazing restaurant with a great view of the vineyards: "Trattoria Fos De Marai" (Valdobbiadene, Via Santo Stefano, 20). I had dinner a few days ago at a restaurant that served Prosecco from this region: $60 per bottle. It's the good stuff!
Above: Andrea, me (John Holmstrom), and Roger. NOTE: I am wearing the special edition t-shirt that Roger made for his Coney Island wedding day, which was inspired by the Ramones' "Road to Ruin" record cover.
I recommend visiting Treviso if you'd like to see Italy at its finest. The wine country is beautiful.
Roger and Andrea are very social people and always bring friends with them wherever they go. BTW, the woman in the middle is Roger's wife, Vania, who is a total treasure. She took great care of me during the trip. It was a lot of work to do everything that needed to be done, and she made sure several times that I got home early. Thank you Vania!
I was brought in a few days early for the Treviso Comic Book Festival by Ruggero Brunello and Andrea Compagnin, the two best guides, tour operators and organizers you ever want to work with. Danny Fields (subject and star of the film “Danny Says” and former Ramones manager) and Monte Melnick, the Ramones tour manager and author of “On The Road With the Ramones”), toured Italy with them the previous two years and highly recommended them. (Below: The Italian translation of "On The Road with the Ramones by Monte Melnick (cover drawing by yours truly), which was put together by Roger and Andrea).
Above: Roger "Ramone" and Andrea "Ramone": The Italian Ramone brothers.
I met Roger and Andrea when they visited New York City for Roger's wedding with his beautiful and wonderful wife, Vania. I was honored to be a wedding guest: Their souvenir was a t-shirt inspired by "Road to Ruin." It was the most beautiful ceremony I ever saw: On the boardwalk on Coney Island, surrounded by several friends and family, within sight of Rockaway Beach and not far from the film set of "The Warriors."
Left to right: Monte Melnick, Roger "Ramone," Vania, and Danny Fields.
Roger told me during their wedding visit that they wanted me to be their next "guest" to Treviso, Italy. "Okay, sure, what do I have to lose?" I figured. Just my sanity, I think, looking back. But going crazy like this is a good thing. My entire career as a cartoonist/writer/artist has been about getting involved in crazy-ass projects that are exciting and fun that somehow become important 20 years later. Why stop now?
We all did a lot of advance work for the tour, going back and forth about what artwork I had to exhibit, what we could sell, what we couldn't, Italy's VAT taxes, etc. I was busy until I took the night flight to Venice, and booked into the Madam BNB:
I learned a lot about Prosecco over the next few days. It is a wildly popular wine in northern Italy—like champagne, only less bubbly, much cheaper and IMHO stronger. The local vineyards and wineries are so obsessed with its production that the only comparison I can think of would be the “Emerald Triangle” in California where marijuana growers are insanely-competitive about how they grow their plants. This went beyond that because wine has been produced in Northern Italy for so many generations: One winery I visited traced production back to the 1600s. It is an amazing wine: tasty, enjoyable, excellent, and best when they affix the heralded “DOCG” official label to it.
“For the fifth consecutive year the Gruppo Ristoratori (Treviso Restaurant Owners Group) della Marca Trevigiana (GRMT)-Confcommercio, in cooperation with the Treviso Comic Book Festival (TCBF) and the support of Treviso Glocal (a company for the territorial marketing and the internationalization of the della Treviso Chamber of Commerce), organized an original “Gourmet Tour” called FUMETTI GUSTOSI (Tasty Comics) in which the enogastronomic excellences of the Treviso region are paired with the great names of art, culture and research (rural, handcraft and industrial) that embellish the contemporary Treviso creative scene.”
In the good old U. S. of A., this could never happen. Well, maybe someday, but I just can't see alternative/underground/indie cartoonists being held in high regard and treated so well in my home country. So thank you very much, Treviso Comic Book Festival!
I was booked to go on a tour with five (maybe six?) cartoonists/illustrators/crazy people from all over the place: Diana Naneva (Bulgaria), Anna Haifisch Germany), Rufus Dayglo and his wife Claire Adams (England/New Zealand), along with a guy who seemed to take no interest in working with us, nor being a part of our collaboration. Ahh, the wonderful world of creative people! Anyhow, he was so unpleasant to me (even though his wife was very charming), I won’t mention his name. I hope we can bury the hatchet someday.
TCBF Dripping Taste Tour: Day One
The Five Of Us (Diana, Rufus, Claire, Anna and I) loaded into a very large tour bus and greeted by our charming, lovely and attractive tour manager: Chiara Cescon. She stated what we all feared: This tour was going to be a bit like a long, school field trip, and she was playing the part of our teacher. (Yes, it was a bit like Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher” and she knew it) so it was all Big Fun. An interesting part of this experience was that the five of use got to know each other while we were driving all over northern Italy, and became friends.
Here’s the tour company, which i recommend highly if you’d like to visit Treviso:
The Steel Factory: Azienda F.lli Perin
This is when first figured that the TCBF people had totally lost their minds (in a good way). Instead of a “gourmet wine and cheese tasting tour” we stopped at F.lli Perin: a steel factory! We were given a tour of their facilities, which were noisy and metallic. Some of the women seemed smitten with the men at the factory (they should market a calendar), but I was more impressed with their espresso vending machine: Instant caffeine! Check out the Website, there’s a lot of information about their state-of-the art laser. I had recently had a drawing lasered into granite and it looked amazing, so i am very curious to see how the lasered steel looks.
We were told that the basis of the “Dripping Taste Tour” was to have us collaborate on a drawing/collage about out experiences on the tour that will be lasered onto a piece of steel. I didn't expect this to be our first stop, but it's OK with me. I actually enjoy punk rock AND some heavy metal!
Above: Rufus, John, Anna and Diane. (Photo by Claire)
The Old Mill
After that we visited the “Old Mill.” I was surprised to find out later that a lot of locals don’t know much about this place. All five of us cartoonist/illustrators were all amazed by it. If this place existed in the USA it would be overwhelmed by tourists and become a mainstay in films, TV shows and tourism promotions. I am surprised that no one has used it for a film location yet! So it was fun to be at a place that hasn’t been discovered. The Old Mill has an amazing history and is one of the most beautiful locations I have ever seen in my entire life. It was definitely the most interesting location I saw in Italy. NOTE: You have to visit above the waterfall to enjoy the experience.
Meeting Rufus Dayglo was definitely a highlight of my trip. He was a roommate of Mark P. of "Sniffing' Glue," and does a lot of amazing artwork for mainstream comics like Tank Girl and Judge Dredd:
We disagreed about politics but we able to stay friends throughout, which I really appreciate. So many people have been manic and hysterical during this recent electoral cycle! Like I said to Rufus, which I will repeat here: My political hero is Voltaire, one of the founders of the Enlightenment. He is credited with saying: "I might disagree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it." I think we need to look bak to the Enlightenment so we can all agree to disagree on some things.
Our next stop was at an amazing restaurant: Molinetto della Croda. They served several courses of appetizers that were delicious beyond belief. There was so much food we couldn’t finish it all. This was a visit to “The symbol of the rural tradition of Treviso”: “Intavolando” (The treasure and gusto of tradition). It's interesting to me how small businesses thrive in Italy. People seem to be doing well in their economy: The vineyards are mostly small, family farms and the wineries are almost all small businesses: It’s the American Dream! While it’s dying in the USA and getting replaced by fast-food francises and huge corporations it’s still alive and well in Italy. Maybe we should make the USA more like Italy? People seem happier here...
Sarmede: International Illustration Exhibition for Youth: Exhibition and Studios
Next up was a visit to Sarmede, an International art school for children. Throughout my visit I was struck by how art is integrated into Italian culture as an important part of life and how much Italian people respect artists and creative people. After that we visited a very strange building built by Štěpán Zavřel, a Czech artist who moved to the Treviso area, and then a Town Hall that was decorated with his weird paintings. A weird artist is rarely appreciated in the USA, hate to keep harping on it, but Rufus and Claire Dayglo and I both want to move the The Land of Weird Artists.
Above: images from one of the weirdest houses in the world: the Štěpán Zavřel house.
The Modern Stone-Age Family
Our first stop was at Revine Lago: The Livelet Archeaological Park, which features three reconstructed homes that display what people lived in and worked with 10-20,000 years ago. It was like being on a school field trip.
Eating It Raw
We all got on the bus again and drove for a while to the Hotel/Restaurant Al Cadelach, which also serves as a wellness center, convention center and popular destination for weddings. We were treated to a menu of raw food and other delicacies from the Flintstone age: raw meat, raw fish, raw everything.
After that, we were escorted to a big, fancy room where we all attempted to draw stuff for the laser-printing. We were only given about an hour to produce everything. I think we all did some nice work together, considering the last-minute deadline. I took advantage of the fact we couldorder everything we could eat and drink: More Prosecco, please!
It was a bit weird that we spent so much time at the factory talking about the artwork, driving around on the bus and eating (great) food than actually drawing stuff. I appreciate everythng the “Dripping Taste Tour” people did for us and I hate to bite the hand that fed us gourmet food and great Prosecco but, I maybe next time they should allow the artists another hour or two to produce the work. Somehow I managed to draw two sketches, but wanted to make more!
More Prosecco, Please!
Next, we drove way out in the mountains to “Triple A,” a wine producer that makes a different kind of Prosecco wine that’s not fizzy. It was located way up in the mountains, and like all of the growers and wineries are constantly fighting back against big corporations trying to take over their culture. Go, go, go! www.triplea.it/producers/26-costadila
By the way, the images above are from their Website, I think they are from some of their growers' farms.
Our first stop was back at the steel factory, which will laser-print our sketches based on our experiences on our Treviso experience into a piece of stainless steel. Thousands of years from now, space aliens will encounter this artifact and try to figure out what it all means.
Above: one of my contributions to the TCBF/Perin laser-drawing.
The next stop was an amazing restaurant. The Dripping Taste tour treated us to the top restaurants in the Treviso area.
Around noon we visited a TCBF exhibition of English comic book artists. Hunt Emerson, one of my favorite English cartoonists (along with Savage Pencil) of all time, was part of the group show. If you do not know of his work, it’s simply amazing. Check out his work at: http://largecow.com
Our last stop was at at the Cecchetto winery, where their wine-growing goes back several centuries. They showed us a short documentary film about their wines and the traditions behind growing it. I was blown away when the winery’s owner greeted me by name. The owner’s son is a musician and traveled all the way from Milan to meet me to have me sign some Ramones’ records. For the first time, the “Dripping Taste” tour was all about wine and cheese tasting: they offered a generous assortment of both and they were all awesome.
After 6:00, we visited a group exhibition that included Diana Naneva’s work. She’s a great illustrator, and a very pleasant person.
Above: "Hold Tight" by Diana Naneva.
This was the last day of the Festival, and the only opportunity to sell, sign, meet and greet. Roger and Andrea were there to help set up the table, where we sold t-shirts, silkscreened art prints, and sketches. It was very slow most of the day, but after a few hours I was signing and sketching and signing like crazy. We had a huge last-minute crowd at the end. Roger said: “This is typical for Italian people, we always do everything at the last minute!”
Around 5:00 pm Roger set up a discussion in a stage area with Nicolo Pellizzon, creator of a graphic novel based on Patti Smith’s book, “Kids Like Me,” by which romanticizes the era of 1970s New York City. I moved here in 1972 to become a part of it, and was greatly influenced by “Piss Factory,” Patti’s first record, which was self-produced and helped to inspire the D.I.Y. revolution and a million self-produced records, 'zines fashions and films.
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There was also an amazing series of black and white drawings that said: “Hey Ho! Let’s Grow!” on a nearby wall that people colored. Such a nice closing to an event that changed my life.
I started PUNK Magazine in 1975 as founding editor, art director, production manager etc.--everything except "Resident Punk." I also created the "Joe" comic strip for Scholastic. Later worked on 'zines like Comical Funnies and STOP!, somehow lasted 13 years at HIGH TIMES magazine. Stay tuned for news about current projects.